Adoption of organic farming systems in Missouri
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Organic agricultural production in Missouri has grown since the inception of national organic production and labeling standards in 2002. Underlying the growth of certified organic operations and land area in Missouri are producers' motivations and perceptions regarding organic conversion. The main objective of this research is to compare organic farmers' perceptions and motives by the type of agricultural products produced on their farms. Using a multiple case study methodology, this study compares the elements of the organic adoption decision among Missouri's organic produce, row crop, livestock, and dairy farmers. In order to make comparisons between the farmer types, the study employs the concept of adoption from diffusion of innovations theory as a framework for understanding the elements of the farmers' organic adoption decisions. Five attributes of innovations are used as a foundation for a comparative analysis of farmers' perceptions regarding organic farming - relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability. Comparing interview responses from organic farmers reveals that motivational and perceptual differences exist between farming sectors. In general, farmers from the organic produce, row crop, and dairy farming categories have more positive views of the attributes of organic farming than livestock farmers do.
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